By: Tameca N. Harris-Jackson (she | her), PhD, LCSW, CSE, CIMHP
You've likely come across the terms "coaching" or "life coach" and wondered what it's all about. Maybe you've entertained the idea of getting help to change something in your life but you're not sure if a therapist or coach is best for you. Hopefully the info shared here can shed some light on the differences between coaching and therapy to help you choose the one that feels best for you.
What is Coaching
Think of what you already know about a coach of a game. What do they do? They help motivate, highlight areas that can be improved, give guidance and instruction, help hold a person or group accountable, and they can often serve as mentors. But ask yourself - why? Why do coaches do all of this? Simple - coaches exist to help a person or group of people achieve the target goal. If the aim is to score a goal in soccer, that's the coach's focus for that group - use their knowledge, skills, motivation, and more to help them score the goal. The same is true for a coach in your life.
Is your goal to start a new business? Go for a new position? Relocate? Quitting your job to live your dream of full-time travel? Often times, it's not the goal that we have trouble with, it is understanding and executing the steps necessary that we struggle with. As a result, we are often left feeling stuck, lost/without direction, and frustrated. This is where a coach can be helpful. As a guide, support, and motivator, a coach is someone who can help you focus on the big picture, identify the steps needed to hit your target, and provide you with knowledge, skills, guidance, and mentorship along the way. With a coach, you do not feel alone. You have someone in there with you helping to guide you and to help hold you accountable for the things you need to do to hit your target.
So how does this differ from therapy? Coaching differs from therapy if some very important ways.
With a coach, "you have someone in there with you helping to guide you and to help hold you accountable for the things you need to do to hit your target. "
How Coaching Differs from Therapy
While the main goal of coaching is to support you with knowledge and skills to help you hit your target, what coaching is not designed or equipped to do is help you unpack some of the psychological and emotional barriers that may stand in your way of success.
For instance, maybe on the surface your goal is to quit your job and travel the world. However, beneath the surface this goal exists because of a traumatic experience you've had that makes you feel you need to get away and start over. Through the coaching process you might find it difficult to push through to your goal because the process brings up painful memories about why you are leaving. This is where therapy comes in. A therapist has years of specialized training to help you understand the impact of the trauma and work with you to help experience a form of healing . Through the therapeutic process, your coaching goal may change, and that's okay! Ultimately, you've received the support you need and you have new goals to target with a new mindset.
This brings up some other important points when considering when to see a therapist and when to see a coach. In general:
Focus on past, present, and future healing
Focus on present and future goals
Can take longer time to process and unpack
Narrow focus can result in shorter time
Must be licensed to practice in the state where you live/receive services
Can provide services anywhere
Some insurance may be accepted
Not able to take insurance
Great for deeper understanding of self for healing and change
Great for motivation, focus, and accountability
So which is right for you?
Hopefully, you have a slightly better idea about the differences between coaching and therapy; however, you might still be uncertain which is right for you. Not to worry! Many therapists and coaches offer free or low cost 10-15 minute phone consultations to help you determine best fit. This is a great time to briefly share what your concerns and goals are to determine if therapy or coaching is best for you.
It is also worth noting that you may not need to choose, as both could be a good fit for you! Take some time to reflect on what your goals, areas where you may feel stuck, and consider some things that you believe may assist you will moving forward. You may find that components of therapy and coaching both serve as a good fit for you. Again, use the complimentary consultation time with a provider to discuss.
Today, Choose Joy
Regardless of the path you choose, at Hope & Serenity Health Services our hope will always be that you find and choose the path that brings you joy and serenity. We offer both therapy and coaching services, with our coaching services tailored to include relationship and intimacy coaching with Dr. Tea. If you would like more information on either therapy or coaching services, contact us! We'd be happy to offer a complimentary consultation to help you choose the service that's best for you. Call us at 407-308-0345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May joy & serenity be yours!